University Curator Ian Stephenson was highly commended for his 2018 exhibition Tales from the East at the National Trust 2019 heritage awards which was held at Old Government House, Parramatta.
The World Heritage listed house is Australia’s oldest public building. Since the late 19th century it has been celebrated for its historical significance and since 1970 the building has been open to the public, however, its stories are often perceived as being Anglo-Celtic and of primary interest to Australians of British descent.
The exhibition showed a different aspect of the house and attracted new audiences, in particular the large Indian community of Western Sydney, by using Governor Lachlan Macquarie’s twenty year career in India as the springboard to explore early colonial associations between Australia and India and show how modern day Australians of Indian heritage are enriching the culture of Sydney.
The inclusion of religion provided the strongest platform for the involvement of Indian communities. There were Hindu, Muslim, Zoroastrian and Christian public programs. Mr Abbas Raza Alvi, President of the Indian Crescent Society of Australia was moved to write we need to demonstrate the religious and multicultural harmony all over the world including Australia. That show case [of sacred books: the Avesta, the Quran, the Bible and the Bhagavad Gita] is a true example of this . Congratulations.
Image: Ian Stephenson pictured with architect Liz Vines whose Wilcannia Post Office and Township Revitalisation Program was also highly commended